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Hamilton Fish III

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Subject: Walter Camp Man of the Year, Harvard Crimson football, United States congressional delegations from New York, Old Right (United States), United States House of Representatives elections, 1926
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Hamilton Fish III

See Hamilton Fish for others with the same name.
Hamilton Fish III
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 26th district
In office
November 2, 1920 – January 3, 1945
Preceded by Edmund Platt
Succeeded by Peter A. Quinn
Personal details
Born (1888-12-07)December 7, 1888
Garrison, New York, United States
Died January 18, 1991(1991-01-18) (aged 102)
Cold Spring, New York, United States
Political party Republican Party
Alma mater Harvard University

Hamilton Fish III (born Hamilton Stuyvesant Fish and also known as Hamilton Fish, Jr.; December 7, 1888 – January 18, 1991) was a soldier and politician from New York State. Born into a family long active in the state, he served in the United States House of Representatives from 1920 to 1945 and during that time was a prominent opponent of United States intervention in foreign affairs and was a critic of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. When Fish celebrated his 102nd birthday in 1990, he was the oldest living American who had served in Congress.


  • Background, family, and early life 1
    • Education 1.1
  • Military service 2
  • Service in the U.S. Congress 3
    • The Unknown Soldier of World War I and the Tomb of the Unknowns 3.1
    • Fish Committee 3.2
    • Fish's alleged Nazi ties and isolationism 3.3
    • Britain's campaign to defeat Hamilton Fish 3.4
    • Wartime elections 3.5
  • After Congress 4
  • Ancestors and descendants 5
  • References 6
  • Works 7
  • External links 8

Background, family, and early life

Fish was born Hamilton Stuyvesant Fish in

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Edmund Platt
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 26th congressional district

Succeeded by
Peter A. Quinn

External links

  • The Red Plotters. New York: Domestic And Foreign Affairs Publishers, 1947.
  • The Challenge of World Communism. Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing company, [1946].
  • FDR: The Other Side of the Coin. Institute for Historical Review, 1976.
  • Tragic Deception: FDR and America's Involvement in World War II. Devin-Adair, 1983.
  • Hamilton Fish: Memoir of an American Patriot. Chicago: Regnery Publishing, 1991.


  1. ^ a b Fish, Hamilton, III. Hamilton Fish: Memoir of an American Patriot (1991), pp. 7–9.
  2. ^ Fish (1991), p. 107.
  3. ^ Fish (1991), pp. 9–10.
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ Fish (1991), p. 13.
  6. ^ Fish (1991), p. 14.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Fish (1991), pp. 16–18.
  9. ^ Fish (1991), p. 18.
  10. ^ "MR. FISH QUOTES "FATHER", New York Times, February 2, 1915
  11. ^ Summer Politics, Life Magazine, August 1942
  12. ^ Fish (1991), pp. 25–28.
  13. ^ Fish (1991), p. 28.
  14. ^ American Legion magazine, Hamilton Fish: The Tomb of the Unknowns was his idea, May 2009, page 46
  15. ^ Fish (1991), p. 31.
  16. ^ Harvard's Military Record in the World War. pg. 327.
  17. ^ Jeffrey Gurock, editor, America, American Jews, and the Holocaust: American Jewish History, 2013, page 216
  18. ^ Mel Gussow, Arthur Miller, Conversations with Miller, 2002, page 211
  19. ^ Paul Edward Gottfried, Making Sense of Modernity, 1993, page 15
  20. ^ Fish, Hamilton. The Menace of Communism. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 1931, pp. 54–61.
  21. ^ Fish (1991), pp. 41–42.
  22. ^ "To Seek Added Law for Curb on Reds", The New York Times, November 18, 1930, p. 21.
  23. ^ Ehrt, Adolf Communism in Germany Berlin: General League of German Anti-Communist Associations [1]
  24. ^ Richard Gid Powers, Not Without Honor: The History of American Anticommunism, 1998, page 91
  25. ^ "Goebbels' Week," Time, 1942-08-24.
  26. ^ "U.S. at War: Sloppy Citizenship," Time, 1942-11-16.
  27. ^ "Idle Hands," Time, 1939-10-23.
  28. ^ U.S. at War: Two Out, One to Go," Time, 1942-05-11.
  29. ^ People," Time, 1940-11-18.
  30. ^ a b c d e "No Fish, But Foul," Time, 1942-01-26.
  31. ^ "Hill Links Fish with Viereck Acts," The New York Times, 1943-02-20, at 11.
  32. ^ Drew Pearson, "The Daily Washington Merry-Go-Round," The Daily Sheboygan, 1942-10-26, at 14.
  33. ^ Thomas E. Mahl, Desperate Deception : British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-44 (Washington D.C.: Brassey's, 1998), 107-135
  34. ^ U.S. at War: Is this the Year?' Time, 1942-11-02.
  35. ^ "U.S. At War: Revolution in Ohio," "Time", 1942-11-16.
  36. ^ "Solons End 1942 Session; Set Up 2 N.Y.C. Districts," Dunkirk Evening Observer, 1942-04-25 at 1.
  37. ^ a b "Ham Fish Beaten for Re-Election by A.W. Bennet," Dunkirk Evening Observer, 1944-11-08 at p. 1.
  38. ^ "The Election: The New House," Time, 1944-11-13.
  39. ^ "Last Words," Time, 1945-01-01.
  40. ^ The New York Times, August 26, 1944, p. 13.
  41. ^
  42. ^ "Hamilton Fish. Memoir of an American Statesman." REGNERY GATEWAY Photos between pages 86 and 87


Fish wrote a short history of World War I and an autobiography, Hamilton Fish: Memoir of an American Patriot, published shortly after his death. For many years he was a familiar speaker at various political and veterans' functions; an indefatigable traveler, he was known to do it by car as often as not. Almost invariably, he ended such speeches with, "If there is any country worth living in, if there is any country worth fighting for, and if there is any country worth dying for, it is the United States of America." In 1958 Fish founded the The Nation before making his own unsuccessful run for Congress as "Hamilton Fish, Jr." in 1994. This grandson is also referred to as Hamilton Fish V. Hamilton Fish III married his fourth and last wife, Lydia Ambrogio Fish on September 9, 1988 and they remained married until his death. She currently lives in retirement in Port Jervis, NY.[42]

Although pledging on December 8, 1941 that he would volunteer for the Army to avenge the attack on Pearl Harbor,[41] Fish did not serve in World War II; he was already 53 years old at that time.

After Congress

Embittered by his defeat, Fish promptly sued Robert F. Cutler (executive secretary of the group, Good Government Committee) for libel, seeking $250,000 in damages for advertisements depicting Fish as a Nazi sympathizer. The ads also depicted Fish associating with the "American Führer", Fritz Kuhn. He would later discontinue the lawsuit without a settlement.[40]

About his exit from Congress, Fish said in his election-night concession speech that "my defeat should be largely credited to Communistic and Red forces from New York City backed by a large slush fund probably exceeding $250,000."[37] As he viewed it several weeks later, "It took most of the New Deal Administration, half of Moscow, $400,000, and Governor Dewey to defeat me...."[39]

However, reapportionment, which took effect in 1944, fragmented his district. That year he ran in a district that no longer included his home county of Putnam, but included one county (Orange) from his previous district and three new counties.[36] Fish was defeated by approximately 5,000 votes.[37] As Time magazine reported, "In New York, to the nation's delight, down went rabid anti-Roosevelt isolationist Hamilton Fish, after 24 years in Congress. His successor: Peter A. Quinn."[38]

In the 1942 election, Fish (like other former isolationists) was considered vulnerable. The Orange and Putnam district that Fish represented had begun to turn against him. Polls predicted, incorrectly, that Fish would not even win the Republican primary. For the first time in his 22 years of political campaigning he opened campaign headquarters. Soon thereafter he was repudiated by the popular Republican gubernatorial candidate, Thomas Dewey.[34] But the November 1942 election occurred when voters were impatient for the battlefield victories that would later come,[35] and Fish defeated his Democratic opponent by 4,000 votes.

Wartime elections

The British Security Cooperation focused a great deal of effort attempting to influence Congressmen through front groups, campaigning, and agents of influence. In 1940, BSC agents ran the Nonpartisan Committee to Defeat Hamilton Fish in order to “put the fear of God into every isolationist senator and congressman.” The committee raised substantial sums of money for Fish’s opponent, coordinated several media attacks, created false charges of wrongdoing just before elections, and helped distribute books charging Fish with disloyalty. The committee as much as possible tried to make attacks on Fish appear to originate from his district though historical documents indicate most attacks originated outside of his district. Fish survived the attack in 1940 but won his election with less than half the margin of victory he earned 2 years earlier.[33]

Britain's campaign to defeat Hamilton Fish

Less than two weeks before the 1942 midterm congressional election, columnist Drew Pearson's nationally syndicated column (Washington Merry-Go-Round) described in detail how in 1939 Fish had received over $3,100 in cash from a source with German ties.[32]

Shortly after the indictment, Fish defended Hill claiming, "George Hill is 100% O.K., and I'll back George Hill to the limit on anything." [30] During the trial, Hill had explained that Viereck visited Capitol Hill in 1940 and arranged for wholesale distribution of Congressional speeches attacking the Administration's foreign policy.[31] After hearing a jury had reached its verdict and anticipating a conviction, Fish issued a statement: "I am very sorry to learn that George Hill, a disabled, decorated veteran of the World War and a clerk in my office, has been convicted of perjury... Mr. Hill is of English ancestry... He had an obsession against our involvement in war."[30] Twenty hours later, the jury did convict Hill.[30]

A Foreign Agents Registration Act and for having subsidized the Islands for War Debts Committee.) Hill said he had not sent for the mail and did not know Viereck. The jury promptly indicted Hill for perjury.[30]

[30] In 1941, a judiciary panel investigating the activities of Nazi agents in the U.S., sent officers to the Washington headquarters of an anti-British organization, the Islands for War Debts Committee, to seize eight bags of

In 1940, just after the presidential election, Fish sent a telegram to Roosevelt which read: "Congratulations. I pledge my support for national defense ... and to keep America out of foreign wars."[29]

On August 14, 1939, Fish, president of the U.S. delegation to the Interparliamentary Union Congress conference in Oslo, Norway, met with Joachim Ribbentrop. Fish flew to Oslo in Ribbentrop's private plane.[27] Fish, a staunch opponent of Roosevelt, advocated better relations with Nazi Germany and hoped to solve the "Danzig question" during the conference in Norway. "Stepping out of Joachim von Ribbentrop's plane in 1939, Fish opined that Germany's claims were 'just.'"[28]

Fish was touted by the Germans as a friendly American ally.[25] Time magazine once termed him "the Nation's No. 1 isolationist."[26]

Fish's alleged Nazi ties and isolationism

In 1933, Fish was on a committee that sponsored the publication in the United States of a translation of a Nazi book called Communism in Germany by Adolf Ehrt. In the prefatory note, the committee said that they did not publish it as a defense of antisemitism or the Nazi regime, but because they believed that the struggle between Nazis and communists in Germany provided a lesson about using "effective measures" to defend against communism. The book claimed that Jews were responsible for communism in Germany, and that only Adolf Hitler could stop it. Under pressure from American Jewish and liberal groups, Fish and the other committee members disavowed the book.[23][24]

On May 5, 1930, he introduced House Resolution 180, which proposed to establish a committee to investigate communist activities in the United States; the resulting committee, commonly known as the Fish Committee, undertook extensive investigations of people and organizations suspected of being involved with or supporting communist activities in the United States. Among the committee's targets were the American Civil Liberties Union and Communist Party presidential candidate William Z. Foster.[21] The committee recommended granting the United States Department of Justice more authority to investigate communists, and strengthening of immigration and deportation laws to keep communists out of the United States.[22]

Hamilton Fish was a fervent anti-communist; in a 1931 article, he described communism as "the most important, the most vital, the most far-reaching, and the most dangerous issue in the world" and believed that there was extensive communist influence in the United States.[20]

Fish Committee

On December 21, 1920, Congressman Hamilton Fish introduced legislation which was to be among his most enduring and patriotic acts as a member of Congress. It was Resolution 67 of the 66th Congress which provided for the return to the United States the remains of an unknown American soldier killed in France during World War I and for interment of his remains in a hallowed tomb to be constructed outside the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia across the Potomac River from the nation's capital. The Congress approved the resolution on March 4, 1921. On October 23, 1921 at Châlons-sur-Marne, France, about 90 miles from Paris, remains of an unknown soldier were selected from among four caskets containing remains of unknown American soldiers killed in France. The selected remains were returned to the United States and interred at the tomb site in Arlington National Cemetery on November 11, 1921 in solemn ceremony following a state funeral procession from the U.S. Capitol building where the World War I Unknown had lain in state. The tomb, completed in 1937, came to be known as The Tomb of the Unknowns (Soldiers) which is today guarded around the clock daily by elite sentries of the U.S. Army's historic ceremonial but combat ready 3rd Infantry Regiment—"The Old Guard." The tomb, and unknown soldiers of three U.S. wars interred there today, is thought to be the most hallowed military site in the United States and may well be Fish's greatest legacy to the nation.

The Unknown Soldier of World War I and the Tomb of the Unknowns

He was opposed to Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal policies. A non-interventionist until after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Fish was also responsible for a number of legislative and diplomatic moves aimed at helping Jews out of Hitler's Germany.[17] His unapologetic opposition to the New Deal provoked Roosevelt into including him with two other Capitol Hill opponents in a rollicking taunt that became a staple of FDR's 1940 re-election campaign: "Martin, Barton and Fish."[18] Finally, in part under the influence of New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey, Fish's congressional career ended when he won the Republican Party primary in his district but lost the general election in 1944.[19]

First elected to fill the vacancy caused by Edmund Platt's resignation, Fish was a member of the United States House of Representatives from November 2, 1920 until January 3, 1945, having been defeated for reelection in 1944.[4] In nearly 25 years as a congressman, Fish would become known as a strong anti-communist and a bitter opponent of his erstwhile friend Franklin D. Roosevelt, which raised his profile and made him an ally of the anti-Roosevelt members of Congress.

Service in the U.S. Congress

Fish Was promoted to major on March 13, 1919 and returned to the United States on April 25 of the same year. He was discharged from the Army on May 14, 1919.[16]

Fish and his unit landed in Brest, France on December 26; the 369th was placed under the control of the French army by U.S. General John J. Pershing.[13] Altogether, the 369th spent 191 days on the front lines, which was the longest of any American regiment. It was also the first Allied regiment to reach the Rhine River. Fish received the Silver Star and Croix de Guerre.[14] In addition, Fish and his sister Janet, who had been a nurse near the front lines, were both later inducted into the French Legion of Honor for their wartime service.[15]

The summer after President Wilson's declaration of war against Germany (in April 1917), Fish and about two thousand soldiers began training at Camp Whitman (in New York). In October 1917, the unit was ordered to Camp Wadsworth (in South Carolina) for further training. In November 1917, the regiment boarded the USS Pocahontas, destined for France, although shortly thereafter the ship returned to shore due to engine problems. After another aborted departure, the ship left on December 13, 1917. Despite colliding with another ship and not having a destroyer escort to protect against German submarines, the regiment reached France. (Fish complained to Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt about the lack of an escort.)[12]

Prior to the United States entering the First World War, Fish was captain of Company K, 15th New York Infantry. When the 15th was mobilized for Federal service, Fish accepted an offer from Col. William Hayward to retain his position in the 369th U.S. Infantry Regiment (as the 15th New York was re-designated following mobilization). The 369th was a unit of African American enlisted men and white officers[11] which came to be known as the "Harlem Hellfighters."

General Mark L. Hersey (left) and captain Hamilton Fish III (right)

Military service

Fish was a Progressive member of the New York State Assembly (Putnam Co.) in 1914, 1915 and 1916.[10]

In 1909, aged twenty, Fish graduated early from Harvard with a cum laude degree in history and government. He declined an offer to teach history at Harvard and instead took a job in a New York City insurance office.[9]

Graduating from St. Mark's in 1906,[6] Fish went on to attend Harvard Law School football team, which played exhibition games with other colleges around the country.[8]

During his childhood, Fish attended Chateau de Lancy, a Swiss school near Geneva, which his father also attended in 1860; there, the younger Fish learned French and played soccer. He spent summers with his family in Bavaria. He began his U.S. boarding school education at Fay School in Southborough, Massachusetts, and he later attended St. Mark's School, a preparatory school also in Southborough. Fish later described himself as a "B student" but successful in several different sports.[5]

Hamilton Fish at Harvard


Fish was married in 1921 to Grace Chapin Rogers (1885–1960), daughter of onetime Brooklyn Mayor Alfred C. Chapin (1848–1936). Their son, Hamilton Fish IV, was a thirteen-term U.S. Representative from New York, holding office from 1969 to 1995. The Fishes' daughter Lillian Veronica Fish married David Whitmire Hearst, son of William Randolph Hearst.[4]

A cousin of Hamilton Fish III (also named Hamilton Fish) was a sergeant in Company L of Theodore Roosevelt's "Rough Riders", and the first American soldier killed in action during the Spanish–American War. At the age of ten, Hamilton Fish II had his son's name legally changed from Hamilton Stuyvesant Fish to just Hamilton Fish to honor his fallen cousin (he and Hamilton Fish III never met).[3]

Fish's great-grandmother, Susan Livingston, married Count Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz in 1800 after the death of her husband, John Kean (who had been a delegate to the Continental Congress from South Carolina.) A soldier and statesman, Niemcewicz was credited with writing the Polish Constitution of 1791. John Kean and Susan Livingston's great-grandson, and thus a relative of Fish, was Thomas Kean, who was elected governor of New Jersey in 1982.[2]

The wife of Nicholas Fish was Elizabeth Stuyvesant, a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, who was the Dutch colonial governor of New York. Through his mother, Emily Mann, Hamilton Fish III was also a descendant of Thomas Hooker, who settled Hartford, Connecticut in 1636. Fish's uncle Elias Mann was a judge and three-term mayor of Troy, New York.[1]

Peter Stuyvesant 1660


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